Monday, August 3, 2015

News Feed Comments

Why the first letter of your last name matters

July 21, 2015   Filed under Blog, Featured, Potpourri, Writing  

Sent from frequent reader and commenter Jon Zeitler: https://agenda.weforum.org/2015/06/why-the-first-letter-of-your-surname-matters/ When individuals make choices from lists, does the list ordering matter? There may be a ‘primacy effect’, where individuals are biased towards selecting items earlier in the list. Conversely, there may be a ‘recency effect’, i.e. a tendency to select items towards the end of the […]

New resource for teaching students how to find, read, and use the literature

April 15, 2015   Filed under Blog, Featured, Resources, Writing  

The UK Higher Education Academy just published our second report in the series How to Succeed at University in GEES Disciplines: Enhancing your Information Literacy Skills. (GEES is Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences.) I wrote this with coauthor Rich Waller at Keele University. Contents include finding and assessing scientific literature, critical reading, citing sources and […]

The Importance of Thinking Before Writing

March 21, 2015   Filed under Blog, Featured, Publishing, Writing  

I was helping a student with a paper he was writing. He said a lot of interesting things, just not being very effective at what he was trying to convey. Here was my advice to him. If you can write down 1–3 bulleted sentences that convey your principal results or points that you want to […]

Advice to writers: Treat it like teaching

January 30, 2015   Filed under Blog, Featured, Writing  

While helping a student write a particularly challenging chapter in his dissertation, it occurred to me that one piece of advice that may help him is to treat his writing like teaching. Imagine, if instead of communicating your science through a written report, you had to teach your ideas to students who had not seen […]

Why you need to read your page proofs carefully…

January 15, 2015   Filed under Blog, Featured, Humor, Writing  

From http://www.theguardian.com/science/grrlscientist/2014/nov/12/scientific-schadenfreude:

Damn the tildes and full speed ahead!

December 16, 2014   Filed under Blog, Featured, Writing  

Reader Matt Bunkers raised the issue of the tilde (~) in scientific writing. Some use it for “proportional to”. Others use it for “order of magnitude”. Still others use it for “approximately”. Given the wide variety of uses for the tilde, why not just write out what you mean? Doing so will make your writing […]

Use your middle initial. Appear smarter.

October 31, 2014   Filed under Blog, Featured, Writing  

A coauthor on a paper and I ended up discussing whether scientists should use their middle initial on a paper. An article entitled “The impact of middle names: Middle name initials enhance evaluations of intellectual performance” in the European Journal of Social Psychology addresses this issue. The abstract reads: Middle name initials often appear in […]

How to respond to reviewers: When two reviewers say the same thing

October 31, 2014   Filed under Blog, Featured, Reviewing, Writing  

My coauthors and I were talking about the responses to the reviewers that we were writing for a paper that was in peer review. Because two of the reviewers raised issues about the same item, my coauthor wrote a thoughtful response to Reviewer #1, then, in response to Reviewer #2, said basically, “See our response […]

“Conclusions and Discussion”? What should you call the last section of your paper?

October 2, 2014   Filed under Blog, Featured, Writing  

Astute reader Colin Smith fired the following question my way: I find that many authors call their closing section “Conclusions and discussion”, rather than ‘Discussion and conclusions”. I prefer the latter because, to me, it is logical to first discuss your results in a wider context, and then draw conclusions. However, I also understand why […]

David Byrne: Inspiration for Good Science Writing

August 15, 2014   Filed under Blog, Featured, Potpourri, Writing  

About a month ago, I had finished reading How Music Works by David Byrne (formerly of Talking Heads). I was always a big fan of the music of Talking Heads and Byrne, and I found his movie True Stories quirky. I am a huge musicophile, as well, and when I saw the book on the […]

Next Page »